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RI Officials, Faith Leaders, Respond To Violence In Orlando

One day after a shooting left 50 dead at a gay club in Orlando, local elected officials and faith leaders have issued statements condemning the violence...

One day after a shooting left 50 dead at a gay club in Orlando, local elected officials and faith leaders have issued statements condemning the violence and offering condolences.

"First of all, I think we can all agree that we wake up today saddened and outrage at the horror that has happened in Orlando, and I hope, recommitted to making sure that things like this don't happen again, recommitted to making sure that it isn't so easy for assault weapons to get into the hands of Americans," Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday after an unrelated Statehouse news conference.

She said the state is boosting security in advance of the annual gay Pride parade on Saturday, and that State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell is meeting with owners of prominent gay clubs to talk security.

"The gay Pride parade will go on on Saturday night," Raimondo said. "I will be there. We're going to have extra security and again, Rhode Island is going to make sure that we keep everybody safe, especially and including targeted members of the LGBT community."

U.S. Representative David Cicilline, Rhode Island’s only openly gay member of Congress, highlighted the dangers and discrimination members of the LGBT community still face.

“It’s outrageous that LGBT Americans continue to be the targets of such horrific hatred and violence in 2016,”Cicilline wrote. “Don’t let anyone tell you that we have full equality in this country. LGBT people are not political wedge issues – we are human beings and we are entitled to full equality under the law. I hope that, in the aftermath of this horrific shooting, our country will move towards greater love and acceptance of all Americans.”

Cicilline also called for action on gun control, referencing the weapon the attacker used.

“It is absolutely infuriating to read reports that this shooter used an assault weapon to murder 50 innocent people and wound 53 more. It just should not be this easy for someone to walk into a gun store and walk out armed with a weapon of war that is designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” Cicilline said.

The RI Coalition Against Gun Violence has called on Raimondo and General Assembly leaders to pass more stringent gun-control laws, including a ban on the sales of high-capacity magazines, of over ten rounds.

Other members of Rhode Island's congressional delegation offered similar statements, including Senator Jack Reed, who acknowledged the 49 victims, as well as the police and fire officials who arrived on the scene.

“Our condolences go out to the victims and their families, and our thanks to the brave first responders and fellow citizens who did everything they could to help,” Reed said.

In their statement, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches wrote:

“As people of faith, we voice our loving support for the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community and our Muslim neighbors. The terror that ensued has affected us all and we will not rest until we assure that such terror will not happen again.”

The gunman allegedly pledged allegiance to the extremist group ISIS.

In accordance with a proclamation from President Barack Obama, Raimondo directed all U.S. and state flags be flown at half-staff on public buildings. They will remain there until sunset on Thursday, June 16th. Raimondo also invited citizens to lower their own flags. In a statement, Raimondo called the violence an act of terror.

The governor said she always attends the gay Pride parade and considers it more important to take part this week to let the LGBT community know "we're with them, to let them know we're not going to tolerate this. We're going to stand together. We're going to fight for their freedom and security." 

A gay pride flag hangs at half-staff on Providence City Hall
A gay pride flag hangs at half-staff on Providence City Hall